Repainting the SC430

sc430 wallpaper 1OK, I admit it.  I’m kindof a lame car guy.  I love cars, but I am old and tired and hate being uncomfortable.  So about 5 years ago I bought a year-1 (2002) Lexus SC430 that had been rode hard and put away wet for the princely sum of $17000.  I’ve been bringing it back from an early grave ever since.  The first few years were devoted to repairing the driving stuff — replacing bent wheels, struts, etc.

I also did some exterior work on my own, because the black paint (pity me, I own a black car) had gotten a really bad case of the swirlys from many years of bad car washes.  Plus the headlights had gotten really fogged, so I cleaned them up.

But this year is the year to do what I’ve been dreaming of ever since I bought the car — a complete repainting job.  Mostly to cure all the battered-paint troubles, but also to slightly change the color to an extremely dark blue.  I’m hoping to get that effect where it looks black unless you really look at it in direct sun, at which point the blue metallic will show up.

This is a post to chronicle the project.

The folks who did it

Will and Robert Latuff — of Latuff Brothers Autobody.  They look displeased, no?

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Rick, Dan, Brandon, Don and Tim — the guys that did the heavy lifting.  They look unhappy too.  Maybe they’re feeling crummy about the terrible job they did?  Or maybe they just don’t get along with each other very well.

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Huge hole in this post, waiting for a picture of Kim and Steve from Dick and Rick’s Auto Interiors in Bloomington — the folks who redid the upholstery.

 

Ridiculous wallpaper photos (click on them — these thumbnails don’t do them justice)

Being a big believer in eating my dessert first, here are some “ridiculous wallpaper photos” of the completed project, taken here at the farm.

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“Before” pictures of the body

Click on the photos to get the full huge versions so you can see the nasties that I’m trying to fix. Dings, chips, swirlies.  The complete catastrophe.

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Surprises

Not unexpectedly, this 12 year old car had some extra projects hidden inside it.  Like this crimped thingy.  I’ll have to ask Robert what it is.  My guess is that it’s one of the hoses for the headlight washers.

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This was a good one.  When the one of the prior repairs was made, the people at the body shop GLUED the front bumper on to the car.  No wonder it didn’t line up right.

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“In progress” pictures of the body

Robert Latuff shared a whole boatload of documentation shots that he took along the way.  Thanks Robert!

There was all kinds of detail work to do.

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And repairs to badly-done prior repairs.  This car has been through a lot, mostly at the hands of the prior 3 owners.

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There was some pretty rough hail damage, especially on the roof…

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The rear bumper needed to be reworked…

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Even the doors needed to be returned to something more closely approximating their original shape.

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Poor car, so many dents and troubles to be smoothed out.

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Teardown

Here’s a series of pictures showing the car in various stages of being taken apart, repaired, primed, etc.  Again, these pictures are mostly courtesy of Robert Latuff, although there are a few of mine sprinkled in from the day Robert let me look in on the car while it was in progress.

Ever wondered what your car looks like with all the soft cushy bits removed?

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It seems silly, but that’s where the “back seat” of an sc430 goes…

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I embarrassed Robert and forced him to stand in one of my pictures.

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Bits and pieces are coming off to get painted

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I don’t think this is street legal, but it looks like it might be fun to drive — if it had seats.

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Redoing the seats

Speaking of seats. another part of this project was to redo those.  It started to feel like a good time to do it about half way into the repainting, since the seats had already been yanked out of the car.  So they went off to Dick and Rick’s Auto Interiors in Bloomington for a re-do.  Here are some pictures of the way they looked when we started…

One of the prior owners must have been a cowboy that drove this car with his spurs on.  Really hard on the lower edge of the seat.

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One of the “rear seat” belts had been taped down to keep it from flapping in the wind…  Nice, huh?

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Driver’s seat didn’t look too bad from this angle, but the leather was pretty much on its last legs

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This is a weird sc430 problem that lots of owners have.  The “headrests” in the “rear seat” get clobbered by the sun, shrink, and pull away from their underlying frames.  Homely.

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Here’s the back of the “rear seat” after it’s been removed from the car — in all of it’s duct tape glory.

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And here are the front seats.

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Here’s a shot that Steve took over at the upholstery shop showing another surprise.  I wonder what took that bite out of the upper-left corner of the seat foam.  A bear?

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“After” pictures

These are some more utilitarian pictures — not quite as snazzy as the ridiculous wallpaper pictures at the top of the post, but more documentation of this great project.  Nah, I don’t like it.  Ick.  What a misguided effort this was.

This is one of the “before” pictures from up above, with a similar “after” picture right behind it.  Oh, one other change this year — I replaced the tires that had worn out with smaller wheels (went from 18″ to 17″) and higher-profile tires to bring the total diameter back up to roughly what it had been before.  If you’re thinking about this, I can tell you I couldn’t be happier.  It’s easy to see the comparison in these two shots.  Old = skinny tires.  New = slightly fatter tires.  It’s also pretty easy to see the slight change in color — from black to dark blue.

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Here’s another “before/after” comparison, again showing the difference in color and tires.  If you click on these thumbnails, you’ll be able to really see the difference in the paint.  Also note the lovely job that the lads did on fixing up the beat up mirror shrouds.

 

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I forgot to take a “before” picture of all the road rash on the front of the car.  But it’s all gone now.

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Another thing the folks at Latuff fixed was a funky gas cap cover.  It used to stick out in a weird crooked way.  Fixed.

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Hail damage to the trunk?  Fixed.

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Marcie liked the view of the clouds and the trees reflected in the hood.  I do too.

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And here are the seats!

Here’s a “before” shot, just as a reminder…

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Are these nifty or what?  Steve and Kim over at Dick and Rick’s steered me straight on this one.  I told them that I was going for the color of an old Mercedes SL convertible and this is where we wound up.

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Note the way that the rear “head rests” look now that Steve’s been at it.

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Everybody was a little edgy about whether the remaining old black interior and seat frames were going to work with the new, different-color, upholstery.  I think they work great — I like the way they set each other off.

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The end

So there you have it.  The Great 2013 Redo of a 2002 Lexus SC430.  I couldn’t be happier — thanks to all who helped!

One last Ridiculous Wallpaper Picture to send you on your way.  Happy trails!

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